Mirik Lake also known as the Sumendu Lake is probably the first such artificial lake in the entire Hills. Made to attract tourism, which it has been able to do, the lake has become one of the most popular tourist attractions in this region. Many people here in the hamlet are dependent on tourism, as Mirik neither has fertile soil for agriculture nor there being many other means of employment.
Before the agitation,in the mid eighties, Mirik was a well planned town with sewage lines laid all over the town area along with the lake and the tea gardens, which was considered to be one of the finest. Many felt that the Tourism department then was one of the most organized and uncompromising department with strict legal action taken against encroachment and even cutting of tree branches in the area.
However, with urbanization the hamlet is gradually losing its green cover and beauty, with encroachment on tourism land having become a major issue. Many have even started to occupy the lake and have started filling it with mud and sand so that they can build houses on it. In the past NGOs and social organization did come forward to protest against it but their efforts were in vain with the encroachers aided by political influence.
In the year 2012 a huge number of dead fish also turned up in the lake. Due to the wide spread panic of the locals, the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration took steps to clean up the lake following which the labourers who took up the task developed rashes and other diseases. The then GTA chief also summoned all the stakeholders of Mirik and declared the lake water as toxic and saw the need of cleaning it as early as possible. A pandemic starting from the lake was also feared, as most of the houses around the lake area does not have a septic tank and the effluents along with waste water from washing clothes and dishes contaminating the lake.
Shops, hotels and houses have mushroomed in and around Mirik lake without any proper drainage or sewage line.
A multi-crore project for a Sewage Treatment Plant was also sanctioned, while work for it has started it remains to be completed.
Before the first Covid lock down, the Fishery Department had also started a project to clean the lake but later on it was handed over to the Mirik Municipality. The civic body only ended up making the pathway narrower on the already encroached lake.
Our readers have sent us a photo of human waste floating on lake, showing the present pitful scenario.
The ruling government had promised to make Mirik a model town but it’s a sorry state of affairs that nothing much has changed.
Hope the administration looks into it and takes some course of action.
Writes: Yawan Gurung